SAN JOSE, Calif. — First, the Massachusetts Spitfires took the 2010 USA Hockey Tier II 16-and-Under girls’ national championship. Over the last two years, the Connecticut Polar Bears grabbed the trophy.
And in 2013, a team from Vermont, the state north of Massachusetts and Connecticut, did its part to keep the title in New England.
Molly Dunphy’s goal at 9:13 of the second period broke a 1-1 tie and led the Vermont Shamrocks to a 4-1 win over the Potsdam (N.Y.) Icestorm for the title.
The championship game win came on the heels of a thrilling 4-3, three overtime win over the San Jose Jr. Sharks in the semifinal game on Saturday night. Vermont’s championship was the first for the Shamrocks.
“The game against the Sharks was one of those games where you really feel badly that someone has to lose,” Vermont coach Patrick Burke said. “The Sharks were one of the best teams we’ve played all year. Potsdam was really good. We’re not that far away from each other. They’re just across from us on Lake Champlain. We had watched them earlier in the tournament and had been hearing about them all year in terms of their skill and commitment.
“The semifinal was an intense match-up and an emotional victory,” Burke added, “but I don’t think anything tops the finals.”
Vermont’s Chelsea Ellis started the scoring just 18 seconds into the game, with the assists going to her sister Aliza Ellis and Jade Remillard. Potsdam’s Kalie Grant got the Icestorm’s lone goal at 4:13 of the second period, assisted by Natalie Giglio.
After that, Vermont dominated the scoreboard. After Dunphy’s title-clinching goal, Rachel Morse scored at 12:19 on assists by Molly Burke and Remillard. And at 14:28 of the third, Chelsea Ellis completed the scoring with her second goal of the game, with the assist going to Aliza Ellis.
Chelsea Ellis led Vermont with two goals, while Aliza Ellis, Remillard and Burke each had two assists. Vermont outshot Potsdam, 26-23.
According to Burke, he had two simple keys in leading the Shamrocks to the national title.
“We played two goalies, and I never shortened my bench,” he said. “I believe in these kids. That builds confidence in them. The core of the team has been together since they were 11 years old. They refer to themselves as a family.”
Every team begins a season wanting to win a national championship. But if Burke was telling his team to push for that goal, he’s not saying … at least publicly.
“I won’t acknowledge that we talked about winning a national championship at the beginning of the season,” he said. “But we were certainly looking forward to representing New England at nationals. This is the third year in a row the New England rep has won nationals. We know we come out of a tough region. Winning the regional prepared us for the national tournament.
“As we were experiencing success at the regional,” Burke concluded, “we didn’t say win the nationals, but we did say the sky’s the limit and nobody can stop us.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.